WITS grades 7-9

Lesley Choyce

Lesley teaches part-time at Dalhousie University, runs Pottersfield Press and has published over 86 books for adults and kids. His Young Adult novels concern things like skateboarding, surfing, racism, environmental issues, organ transplants, and rock bands. Lesley surfs year round in the North Atlantic and is considered the father of transcendental wood-splitting. He’s worked as a rehab counsellor, a freight hauler, a corn farmer, a janitor, a journalist, a lead guitarist, a newspaper boy and a well-digger. He lives at Lawrencetown Beach overlooking the ocean. He also hosts a nationally syndicated TV talk show on Vision TV. His recent novel, Cold Clear Morning, is currently being developed as a feature length movie. In 2002, Goose Lane Editions published Choyce’s best-selling circumferential history book, The Coasts of Canada. That same year, his animal epic film, The Skunk Whisperer, was broadcast across Canada and heralded at the Maine International Film Festival. Along with the Surf Poets, he has released two poetry/music albums, Long Lost Planet and Sea Level.

To read excerpts from Lesley’s books and download free samples of his music, visit www.lesleychoyce.com.

Jan L. Coates

Jan Coates lives in Wolfville, NS with her husband and their Golden Irish, Charlie. She has two married children (sadly in Ontario) and loves visiting schools through the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program. Jan’s interest in writing for children grew out of her own love of words and stories and a passion for helping kids become lifelong readers and writers.

In her free time, Jan can be found on the badminton court, travelling, at the gym, the cottage, or Frenchy’s. Her first picture book, Rainbows in the Dark (Second Story Press, 2005) has been translated into Spanish, Catalan, and Braille, with Korean and Brazilian rights also sold. She has also written eighteen ESL illustrated chapter books for Caramel Tree, a Korean-based English Language School, and two non-fiction workbooks for Quebec ESL students.

Her debut novel, A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk (Red Deer Press, 2010), was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award (Children’s Text) in 2011, as well as an Ann Connor Brimer Award finalist. She has also written five middle grade novels; The Hermit (Nimbus, 2020); Say What You Mean (Nevermore, 2019); Talking to the Moon (Red Deer, 2018),The Power of Harmony (Red Deer, 2013), also a Brimer finalist, and Rocket Man, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers  (Red Deer, 2014). Jan’s picture books include: Dancing with Daisy (Running the Goat, 2019); Karissa & Felix (self-published, as both author and illustrator, 2019);  A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune (Nimbus, 2018), Sky Pig (Pajama Press, 2016), The King of Keji (Nimbus, 2015), and Rainbows in the Dark (Second Story Press, 2005). Her current passion (other than learning to illustrate and creating soul smiles, her greeting cards) is writing a work of creative non-fiction for young readers about Canadian landscape painter (and all-around interesting person) Doris McCarthy (1910 – 2010).

Don Aker

BIOGRAPHY

A fomer high school teacher, literacy mentor, and university instructor, Don Aker fell into writing in 1988 after attending the Martha’s Vineyard Summer Writing Workshops, where instructors encouraged participants to write with their students. Encouraged by winning the short fiction and nonfiction categories of the 1989 and 1990 WFNS Atlantic Writing Competitions as well as Canadian Living’s 1990 National Literary Competition, Don went on to publish numerous stories and articles and has written more than 20 books.

Because he taught hundreds of teenagers during his teaching career, it isn’t surprising that young adults are the focus of most of his work. What subjects does he choose to write about? “Things that bother me, that don’t go away,” he says. For example, Don wrote his first novel after a student shared with him that she was being physically abused by her father. Of Things Not Seen tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ben Corbett, who, along with his mother, is physically abused by his domineering stepfather. Besides domestic violence, Don’s novels have focused on peer pressure, bullying, youth crime, suicide, sexuality, teen gambling, and a variety of other social issues. However, he is quick to point out that the strongest stories are never about issues or events–“They’re about how characters are affected by those issues and events.”

Don holds a Master of Education from Acadia University and, besides working as an educator and writer, he has been a freelance reviewer and consultant for various educational publishers, including Nelson Education, Pembroke Publishers, and Pearson Education. He has written several books for classroom use, among them Hitting the Mark: Assessment Tools for Teachers (Pembroke, 1995) and a series of language arts texts for grades 8 to 11 (Nelson Education), and he has had articles and fiction published in The International Journal of Reading, Quill & Quire, Books in Canada, Canadian Living, The Toronto Star, Our Family Magazine, The Pottersfield Portfolio, Dandelion Magazine, The Chronicle Herald, and various anthologies.

The father of two daughters, Don lives with his wife in Bedford.

Emma FitzGerald

Emma FitzGerald was born in Southern Africa to Irish parents and grew up in Vancouver. She has studied both art and architecture, and is the author of Hand Drawn Halifax. She lives and draws in North End Halifax.

Andre Fenton

Andre Fenton is an award-winning spoken word artist & filmmaker who has represented Halifax at 7 national poetry slams across Canada. He is currently on the board of directors of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and a member at large on the board of Spoken Word Canada. He is an author of two books. Ode to Teen Angst and his new YA novel, Worthy of Love which was published by Formac. He is based in the Halifax area.

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